Philly police learning how ro recognize mental health issues

A training course for police is helping to de-escalate tense interactions in Philadelphia, according to the city’s Department of Behavioral Health.  

The staff has been working with police officers to help them recognize a person in crisis, said Dr. Arthur Evans, department commissioner, through “a one-week training course that teaches police officers how to identify and intervene with people who have psychiatric distress.”

Before Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey adopted the training program, officers at times shot people because they didn’t know or understand their distress, Evans said.

“Since we’ve implemented this program, we have not had any of those kind of situations … brought to our attention,” he said.

At a budget hearing Wednesday, Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez urged Evans to expand the effort to help those in need who do not understand English well.

Latinos are taking advantage of the services in significant numbers, he said.

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